Covanta incinerator, Marston Vale


BCCF oppose the planned Covanta incinerator at Marston Vale, along with Central Beds and Bedford Borough Councils, Bedford’s Mayor and MP and thousands of residents.

The proposed Covanta Incinerator (just 1km from Stewartby and Marston Moraine), would burn nearly 600,000 tonnes of ‘waste’ every year. It would be a purely commercial enterprise burning commercial waste as has no contacts with local councils. (For context, Bedford Borough’s entire ‘black bin’ household waste figure is around 40,000 tonnes per year!) The Conservative Government’s Infrastructure Planning Committee (long since defunct) overrode local councillors and residents on grounds that it is an important  ‘Energy From Waste’ Plant, and so planning permission was granted despite enormous opposition and health/environmental concerns. The 594 HGV journeys over local roads per day, for example, were also approved via the planning permission.

In brief, we oppose incineration in general because:

  • It goes against the principles of the waste hierarchy and the essential transition to a ‘circular economy’, assuming we can create endless waste to burn. Indefinitely.Zero-waste-hierarchy
  • It undermines much needed drives to increase recycling as the plant must be ‘fed’ constantly to be most efficient, and that means recyclable plastics, paper, cardboard, food waste etc will be amongst the material incinerated.
  • It is an enormously wasteful method of generating energy. Reducing/re-using/recycling of materials instead of producing new products from virgin materials saves huge amounts of energy.
  • As environmental consultants Eunomia recently showed, there is over capacity of incineration in northern Europe, further undermining recycling targets and meaning ‘waste’ has to be transported from much further afield.
  • Incineration is not renewable energy and the CO2 emissions alone conflicts with the Paris Climate Agreement’s commitment to prevent temperature rises of more than 2 degrees celsius (above pre-industrial levels).
  • Incineration is inefficient and does not ‘deal with’ our waste problems. In fact for every 4 tonnes of material incinerated, about 1 tonne remains in the form of toxic ash.
  • Human health is at serious risk due both to the toxic bottom ash and especially the fly ash (chimney emissions). PM2.5 and below are nanoparticles small enough to enter the human blood stream and cross membranes, entering organs including the brain. The filters used in incineration plants do not and cannot filter out these harmful smaller particles. Dioxins, furans, heavy metals – some of the most toxic and carcinogenic manmade chemicals – are released into the environment. Long- term exposure, especially to children, poses a serious risk.

Our alternatives? We campaign for clean, renewable energy AND ambitious drives to transition to a circular economy! (See, for example:

The Environment Agency are ‘minded’ to grant an operating permit to Covanta, which is all the company now needs. See the draft permit at


MK43 9LY, Covanta Energy Limited EPR/WP3234DY/A001: Environmental permit draft decision advertisement – Environment Agency – Citizen Space



(Note what can and can’t be taken into consideration by the Environment Agency when it comes to objections: What the EA say they can take account of

Please find some sample objections which are not exhaustive but which you may find useful here: Sample objection 1 and Sample Objection 2

Also evidence from Prof Vyvyan Howard which has delayed the local incinerator permit there 7 times. CVH Ringaskiddy evidence Final[1]-2

And also Lessons from a Welsh Incinerator

ALSO please sign the petition to Michael Gove at DEFRA and the CEO of the Environment Agency:

For the history around Covanta’s plans and what is being done locally, see:


For useful general information and excellent resources around why incineration is NOT the way forward, see: